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Exploration archéologique de 170 hectares de plaine maritime (Bourbourg, Saint-Georges-sur-l’Aa, Craywick, Nord de la France) : restitution de la fermeture d’un estuaire au Moyen Âge et mise en évidence de mares endiguées

Abstract : As part of the expansion of the port of Dunkirk, more than 170 hectares of the maritime plain were explored on the future “Zone de Grande Industrie” (heavy industrie area) in the former estuary of the Denna (or Déna, or L’Enna) river, sub-catchment of the small coastal Aa river. The usual preventive archaeological diagnosis by trial trenches was accompanied by an archival research, a geophysical survey and geomorphological surveys (cross-sections and 3 m deep test pits). The integration of the different results leads to an understanding of the sector better than each discipline would have done separately. The first meters of deposits consist of tidal sands intersected by tidal channels. The upper decimeters are possibly siltier. The apparent conductivity survey allows spatializing the lithostratigraphic data. Their combination, as well as information from the ancien cadastre, highlight a state of the western edge of the estuary, contemporary with human occupations. In the same way, combination of archaeological remains collected during the survey with the geophysical/stratigraphical data allows to understand the evolution of that landscape, along with the expansion and contraction of dwellings, since the first remains around the Xth–XIIth century on the western edge of the estuary. From that, dwellings move to the northeast, to a long time active channel of the Denna which its axis corresponds to the current drainage system. The electrical conductivity survey also revealed anomalies that turned out to be broad and deep anthropogenic features (up to about 40 m in diameter and more than 5 m deep, i.e. −2.5 m below mean water level). Although abundant, these structures can easily be unnoticed by trial trenches. Three structures were tested. Their filling is variable but has a common point to be sealed on the bottom and to have walls made with clumps of clay. These features are interpreted as diked ponds, some examples remain on the coast of the North Sea (Friesland, Zeeland and Germany). They were used to collect fresh water while the surrounding shape embankment was used to protect it from the highest tides.
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Contributor : Laurent Deschodt <>
Submitted on : Monday, March 29, 2021 - 5:13:20 PM
Last modification on : Friday, May 21, 2021 - 3:22:03 PM

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Laurent Deschodt, Mathieu Lançon, Samuel Desoutter, Guillaume Hulin, François-Xavier Simon, et al.. Exploration archéologique de 170 hectares de plaine maritime (Bourbourg, Saint-Georges-sur-l’Aa, Craywick, Nord de la France) : restitution de la fermeture d’un estuaire au Moyen Âge et mise en évidence de mares endiguées. Bulletin de la Société Géologique de France, Société géologique de France, 2021, Special Issue Gearcheology, 192 (12), 20 p. ⟨10.1051/bsgf/2021004⟩. ⟨halshs-03184693⟩

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